Star Wars: Return of the Jedi ended the Original Trilogy with the death of Palpatine. His death marked the monumental defeat of the main villain.
However, in the context of the galaxy far, far away, his death created a power vacuum. Several other influential dark side users tried to fill this gap in the Star Wars Legends and Canon timelines. Now, Darth Bane’s Sith Order was eradicated, but other dark side users and new iterations of the Sith Order did return.
Along with the remains of the Empire itself, these villains would keep creating trouble in the galaxy at large. As a result, the heroes of the main trilogy for the following decades as the New Jedi Order and the New Republic were established. There are some dark side followers outside of the First Order’s leadership and the Knights of Ren in the Star Wars canon timeline. Palpatine ensured that both the Empire and his Sith legacy survived by putting in place multiple contingency plans.
These plans included Operation Cinder, which was made to kill off the most deadly and troublesome Imperials and plant the seeds of their return as The First Order. His planning eventually also resulted in Ben Solo getting corrupted. And this would lead to the Knights of Ren (although their origins are unrelated to the Sith as well as Palpatine) and the First Order itself. In the Legends timeline, Darth Sidious often played around the late Darth Bane’s Rule of Two after successfully establishing the Galactic Empire.
Sidious also almost ended the Jedi Order. His Imperial Inquisitors and the Prophets of the Dark Side (a religion that had split off the Sith Order) were Sith in all but name. These champion dark side users helped enforce his wishes during his time as the Emperor. Doing this ensured his legacy after his death. The Empire in itself has fractured into different sub-factions that Imperial Warlords led after the Battle of Endor.
They all eventually unified into what’s known as the Imperial Remnant in 12 ABY. And they formally surrendered to the New Republic in 19ABY. Here, let us look at the most powerful dark side users after Return of the Jedi.
Kylo Ren was originally called Jedi Ben Solo. He was Leia Organa and Han Solo’s son. Eventually, Kylo Ren was seduced to the dark side by Snoke. This led him to nearly completely wipe out Luke Skywalker’s students, who were the new generation of Jedi. After that, he joined the Knights of Ren. Kylo then killed the Knights’ Leader and usurped his position before doing the same thing to Snoke.
Thus, replacing him as The First Order’s Supreme Leader. Kylo Ren possessed an immense and intrinsic strength in the Force. His power surprised Snoke, Luke, and even Palpatine. This is why he was highly sought after by the Jedi and by users of the dark side. Jedi Master Luke Skywalker himself trained kylo in lightsaber combat.
As such, Kylo was deadly against his enemies. This was especially true for those who used lightsabers and blasters. After all, we saw how effective he was in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker when he fought against Rey and the Alazmec cultists.
Avid followers of the Star Wars Legends timeline will know that the Dark Lady of Sith, Lumiya (with Palpatine), was closest to an arch-nemesis that Luke Skywalker had. Lumiya was born as Shira Brie. She was initially an elite Imperial spy and was quite skilled as a pilot and soldier as well. The eventual Sith lady went undercover within the Rebel Alliance and was soon able to become part of the Rogue Squadron.
However, her cover got blown, and her body was left shattered due to her ship getting destroyed. But Darth Vader didn’t leave her. He rebuilt her body into a cyborg and trained her as a Sith. Yes, her transformation mirrored his own in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Lumiya, unlike the other Imperial dark side users, was a true Sith.
When Vader and Palpatine died during the Battle of Endor, she was on Ziost (a Sith planet), completing her training and making her light whip. This weapon is exactly what the name says- a lightsaber that looks like a whip. The ancient Sith used such weapons. After Endor, she created the next generation of Sith and even used Darth Bane’s Rule of Two. After this, Lumiya carried out catastrophes from the shadows like Vader and Darth Sidious.
Lumiya’s powers as a Sith were incredible and only surpassed by Vader and Palpatine. Her most used techniques were telekinesis and illusions. Along with this, Lumiya was also a great duelist. She was able to defeat Luke Skywalker less than a year after he defeated Darth Vader.
Jerec was initially from the Prequel Trilogy timeline. He didn’t fight in the Clone Wars. Instead, he was in the Unknown Regions looking for ancient artifacts. Jerec came back to Coruscant shortly after the Empire rose to power and carried out their Jedi purge. After this, Jerec denounced the Jedi and voluntarily joined the Empire.
He became a member of the Prophets of the Dark Side as well as an Inquisitor. After the Battle of Endor, Jerec led a part of the Pentastar Alignment (one of the Imperial warlord factions) into the Valley of the Jedi on Ruusan. This allowed him to increase his power with the help of the spirits of more than a hundred Sith and Jedi. However, even without this power boost, Jerec was a powerful warrior.
He had mastered the Makashi, the lightsaber that Dooku used as well. Also, Jerec could go toe to toe with other fighters who wielded lightsabers. Now, he couldn’t use the dark side like Lumiya or Vader (for which he hated Vader), but this doesn’t mean he was helpless. Jerec could paralyze enemies with the dark side, and he also mastered Force Lightning. Along with this, he also used an ability called Force destruction. With this power, he could destroy his opponents with just a blast of dark side energy.
Cronal has several names, but underneath it all, he was the leader of Sorcerers of Rhand, Imperial Intelligence, and Prophets of the Dark Side. He was a nihilist who admired Palpatine’s appetite for destruction. Cronal fathered Sariss, a Prophet of the Dark side who was also one of Jerec’s’ followers. Now, Cronal wasn’t a fighter, but he was able to use the dark side uniquely.
As such, he inflicted terror, manipulated minds, and predicted the future. As you might have guessed, Palpatine found his ability to predict the future particularly useful. That’s not all. Cronal was also able to transfer his consciousness into another body like Palpatine. This, of course, allowed him to cheat death.
The mysterious Snoke took command of the Galactic Empire’s leftover forces and united them to form The First Order. His taking control over the surviving forces was pretty unexpected. But the military he formed did his bidding and tried to restore the autocracy of the Empire. However, not many in the galaxy knew that Snoke was a strand cast.
Commissioned by Palpatine, he was an artificially made humanoid created to take control of the Empire’s successor situation. We don’t know just how much Snoke knew or was even aware of his origins. But we do know clearly that he had free will and played a significant role in turning Ben Solo into Kylo Ren. Now, Snoke isn’t a Knight of Ren or a Sith. But he was made by the Sith Eternal cult after Palpatine ordered it.
Thus, he became a powerful dark side user. Snoke showed his extraordinary strength through telekinesis. He easily tossed around General Hux of the First Order as well as newbie Jedi Rey. Along with this, Snoke was also able to read minds and take information from them. As we know now, he passed down this skill to Kylo Ren.
Ren is the first recorded Master of the Knights of Ren. He was a human who led a small circle of dark side users through the unexplored and treacherous part of the galaxy called the Unknown Regions. Ren’s philosophies were followed by his Knights and eventually also by Kylo Ren. His views and how he used the darkness differed from the Sith. Ren believed in paying attention and listening to what he thought was the will of the dark side.
So he went where it directed him to, and he took what it gave to him. As one might expect, in his quest, he destroyed without any remorse. Ren and his Knights were master wielders of the dark side. They were so good that horror stories and myths were told about them. Also, these stories were used to warn others of the dangers of the Unknown Regions. But their strength was unrefined. As such, Luke was able to make quick work of them on Elphrona.
Once upon a time, Desann was an early member of the New Jedi Order that Luke Skywalker was building. In his youth, Desann was ostracized for his powers. But he, in turn, also bullied his friends who were trying to be Jedis. When one such student finally stood up to his bullying, Desann killed him and fled from the Jedi Praxeum. After this, Desann joined the Imperial Remnant. Then in Lord Hethrir’s’ Empire Reborn sub-faction, he became a Sith.
Desann was a powerful lightsaber wielder. He was also skilled in Force lightning, telekinesis, and casting illusions. Also, he used the Force to constrict and strangle his opponents. Since he was a Chistori, so he used his natural strength to boost his melee skills. Desann was at the very peak of his strength; he could fight off Luke Skywalker for a little while before retreating. Now, this is a feat that few others could accomplish.
Jacen Solo was the oldest of Leia Organa and Han Solo’s three children. He was also one of the first students of Luke Skywalker’s new Jedi Academy. When Jacen was young, he endured almost a year of constant, unyielding torture during the Yuuzhan Vong War as a prisoner of Yuuzhan Vong.
To survive, Jacen turned to the dark side, and after the war, he joined Lumiya’s Sith. Once he joined them, he became Darth Caedus. The Sith used his incredible strength in the Force for their purposes. Caedus was one of the evilest dark side users in the galaxy after the Original Star Wars Trilogy. He even rivaled the powers of his masters Lumiya and Luke Skywalker.
As for powers, Caedus could control minds better than even Joruus C’baoth’. Also, he could block mental attacks from the other Force users. Caedus also used Force choke and Force lightning. That’s not all. He could even use the Force to teleport objects as well as flow-walk. Flow-walking means moving his consciousness into the future or even the past.
As for his fighting style, Caedus was a duelist and was able even to defeat Kyle Katarn. However, he failed to overpower Mara Jade truthfully. The only way he was able to gain an upper hand was by casting illusions.
Joruus C’baoth was the clone of a Jedi Master from the Clone Wars era. He was as arrogant as the Master the clone template belonged to. Eventually, he fell to the dark side. Joruus C’baoth took control of Wayland, a planet, and subjugated its entire population in the name of his twisted sense of justice. In the Thrawn Trilogy of books, Joruus established an alliance with Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Now, that alliance was established on shaky grounds at best. However, what’s more, shocking is that he mentored Luke Skywalker for a short period. This happened because he believed that Luke was his clone template. That wasn’t true. In terms of powers, Joruus C’baoth had a lot of them. He could wield Force lightning and enact personal barriers (something most of us can’t). Along with this, he could also control others’ minds. It was his greatest strength, and he often used this power to control Thrawn’s subordinates.
Abeloth was a dark side entity and a horrific monster that was held in The Maw. This is a group of black holes present in the Outer Rim. This creature is way more potent than even the Jedi or Sith. Truthfully, it’s like a god-like entity. Abeloth was able to use the dark side in every way possible. In the Fate of the Jedi books, it was said they the Sith and Jedi had to come together to defeat this creature.
Now, this team-up included Luke Skywalker, who was at the peak of his power back then. Note that we mentioned defeat and not kill because even the Sith and the Jedi coming together couldn’t get rid of it.
Darth Sidious died during the Endor battle. But even then, Palpatine came back from the dead in both Legends and Canon. He was able to do so by transferring his consciousness into other clone bodies. We all know that Darth Sidious or Palpatine was the most vicious Sith Lord of the galaxy. He commanded the dark side with fearsome strength. Also, Palpatine was a skilled lightsaber user.
His skills surpassed even Yoda’s, and we got to see that in Revenge of the Sith. As for Luke Skywalker, he indeed equaled the Jedi’s skills. As for his powers, along with Sith sorcery, Sidious used Force lighting on his enemies. It was his favorite dark side tactic. WDuringStar Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, we saw that he successfully created huge bursts of sudden lightning that took down the whole fleet of ships.
Even after his death in Return of the Jedi, Palpatine was brought back in the last movie of the Skywalker Saga- Rise of Skywalker. Thus, proving that he was the main villain of the franchise.
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